Wild Carrot Exploration – Summary, August 2011
by Robin Rose Bennett and Mischa Schuler
First, the background:
During 2009 and 2010 a group of herb-loving women between the ages of 18 and 50 took part in a yearlong exploration of the traditional use of Daucus carota as a natural contraceptive aid. Most of the women used tincture (made from wild carrot flowers and seeds in 100 proof vodka) as their sole method of contraception. Some women used dried seeds if they preferred. Generally, women took wild carrot tincture, 15 drops of flower and 15 drops of seed, every 8 hours, 3 times after each occasion of intercourse. We agreed to pool our information and see what we could see. All of the participating women filled out a monthly menstrual wheel (sample attached) and charted their ovulation (when known), menstruation, times of intercourse, and times of taking wild carrot. There was space for notes, impressions, and any other anecdotal feedback a woman chose to provide. Women noted any time they used another method of contraception in addition to wild carrot. Those instances weren’t counted. We are truly grateful for the curiosity and willingness of all the women who participated in helping us all gather together this body of empirical experiences to grow all of our knowledge regarding this traditional usage of this ancient plant.
Second, the results:
30 women participated in this group’s herbal exploration enough to be counted.
5 women went for an entire year and there were no pregnancies among those women.
The average number of charts per woman was 5, not necessarily indicating how long they used carrot, but indicating how many charts were filled in.
Throughout the year women recorded 731 occasions of intercourse. Of those, we counted 160 instances of intercourse during fertile phases.
There were 9 pregnancies in 160 potentially fertile times of intercourse.
That is: 5.625% pregnancies, which equates to 94.375% of the women who did not conceive.
We did not include in that number any time that a woman used any additional method (including withdrawal), only when she was solely using wild carrot.
In January 2010 we reviewed the information we had put together so far and reported 7 pregnancies, but it was actually 6 because as it turned out, one of the women had conceived prior to starting wild carrot seed, right before this exploration began. Subsequently, there were 3 more pregnancies recorded.
It is enlightening to look at some of the details surrounding these 9 pregnancies, as summarized below. Nearly half of the pregnancies resulted when women were not using wild carrot as we’d all agreed to do, and there were other potential problems in 3 of the 5 instances where the women were using carrot as agreed.
Summary of pregnancies:
Pregnancies in women taking wild carrot as agreed upon based on traditional usage
1) 38-year-old woman (mother of 2) –
Conceived during her 4th month of using wild carrot
Notes: she was almost immediately physically uncomfortable, had terribly painful breasts while using this plant. Her cycles got shorter and shorter over the first couple of months. This suggested it might not be the right method for her. She continued to use wild carrot and conceived during her 4th month of using wild carrot.
2) 38-year-old woman (mother of 1) –
Conceived during her 4th month of using wild carrot
Notes: She was so fertile she’d had 5 previous unintended pregnancies, all while using contraception: birth control pill, condom (3x), and condom and sponge.
3) 27-year-old woman –
Conceived during her 3rd month of using wild carrot seeds.
Notes: This woman lost her supply of seeds outside for several weeks. They were exposed to rain and all weathers. We don’t know how this may have affected them. Additionally, she communicated via a letter that she had been separated from her lover for a month and conceived during their reunion. She shared that she had been feeling into and giving serious thought to the possibility of having a baby with him.
4) 32-year-old woman -
Conceived during her 8th month of participation in the group’s exploration.
Notes: Used wild carrot for contraception for almost one year before this exploration began. She had conceived in October 2008 (before the exploration began) and had a miscarriage shortly thereafter. She began using wild carrot again as part of this group exploration in June 2009. One month after beginning to use wild carrot she noted that she began spotting before and after menstruation, which was unusual for her. Over time, the spotting after menses got longer though no discomfort was associated with it. The spotting could indicate hormonal changes were occurring for her, stemming from wild carrot use. Additionally, the relationship she was in was in some turmoil at the time of the conception and she suggested that there might have been a mixed intention regarding conception/contraception.
Pregnancies in women not taking wild carrot as agreed upon
5) 20-year-old-woman -
Conceived during the 4th month of the group’s herbal exploration
Notes: Her cycle ranged from 37-42 days. The day she conceived she did not take wild carrot until 33 hours after intercourse/conception. She had a surgical abortion at 8 weeks and resumed having intercourse during her fertile phase and began relying on wild carrot again the month after that. She reports that the tincture has worked for her whenever she uses it as generally agreed upon.
6) 25-year-old-woman –
Conceived during the 5th month of the group’s herbal exploration
Notes: She took wild carrot later than agreed upon, and had highly irregular cycles and 4 previous unintended pregnancies, 2 using fertility awareness method, and 2 using no contraception.
7) 31-year-old-woman (mother of 1) –
Conceived during the 6th month of the group’s herbal exploration
Notes: She usedwild carrot successfully for 1 year (before and during this group exploration). Previous to that, she had had 4 unintended pregnancies, 2 using condoms, 1 using the birth control pill, and 1 without contraception. The pregnancy during the group’s herbal exploration happened when wild carrot wasn’t taken until 22 hours after intercourse, and she notes she also didn’t take a 3rd dose after that fertilizing intercourse.
8) 31-year-old-woman -
Conceived during her 7th month of using wild carrot
Notes: For six months she consistently had intercourse during ovulation and used wild carrot as agreed upon. The 7th month she waited 3 days before taking wild carrot after intercourse during ovulation.
Pregnancy in woman who we don’t know how or even if she took wild carrot
9) 27-year-old-woman -
Notes: wrote to us that she conceived during her 6th month of using wild carrot tincture. We don’t know when she took wild carrot relative to this conception, as she didn’t fill out a chart for that month. For the first five months she had taken wild carrot 3 times, every 12 hours after potentially fertilizing intercourse. Prior to using carrot, her cycles started every 26-30 days, in her words, “usually pretty regular at 28 days”. The first month after beginning to use carrot, her cycle ran 2 weeks later than usual. Whether or not this was caused by carrot, we’re not sure. She speculated it could be carrot, stress, or travel.
One of the women who completed the entire year-long project got married and she and her husband decided they were open to conceive “if it happened” and stopped using wild carrot seeds. She became pregnant about one and a half months later and is going to have her baby in September 2011. During the 9th month of the group’s herbal exploration, she switched to using seeds and found them stronger, yet less pleasant to use and therefore, she forgot them more often, but did always use them during her fertile cycle.
According to the American Pregnancy Association women can expect to conceive 85% of the time if they have unprotected intercourse over the course of one year. This statistic seems suspect because we don’t know how many times they are having sex, nor how many times during their actual fertile phase. We measured the fertile cycle (when a woman wasn’t sure of her ovulation) by counting 4-5 days prior to our best guess at her ovulation and up to 3 days after, based on her cycle as revealed in her charts.
All nine pregnancies that resulted confirm the group’s general hypotheses so far, seven of them very clearly, and the other two suggest somewhat that:
Women must use the wild carrot in a timely way (approx 8 hours after intercourse.)
Wild carrot is not a good herbal ally right after coming off of hormonal medications until cycles are re-regulated for at least three months. Highly fertile women may need to use a combination of methods.
Women who become physically uncomfortable while using wild carrot or who experience menstrual cycle changes should probably not use carrot as a contraceptive.
Specifically, the first pregnancy affirms that any woman who has a negative physical reaction to the seeds or tinctures should not use them for this purpose. The second woman was highly fertile, suggesting that women who get pregnant easily using other forms of contraception will be at risk using this method too, and will probably do best using a combination of methods. The third conception has a wild card unknown of her seeds getting seriously exposed to the elements and a mixed intention. The reasons for the fourth conception are not as clear. There were slight cycle changes noted. The fifth pregnancy resulted when there was a serious delay before taking wild carrot. The sixth woman had highly irregular cycles and took carrot late and was highly fertile. The seventh woman waited 22 hours till she took wild carrot after conception. The eighth woman waited 3 days to take wild carrot after conception. The ninth woman didn’t provide the group with a chart to consider for the month she conceived, but her cycle did immediately change upon starting to use wild carrot, backing up the previously stated caution.
Our grass-roots conclusion, based on the empirical experiences shared by the women in this group’s exploration of this traditional (over 2,000 years old) use of the wild carrot plant is that wild carrot may be a wonderful method of contraception for some women, but is not for everyone. Women should probably not depend on this traditional use of wild carrot if they or their partners are conflicted about having a baby, or if the woman is taking hormonal medications, is lactating, doesn’t yet have a regular cycle, or is recently off the pill or any other hormonally potent medication. This project strongly suggests that it is also contraindicated for any woman who experiences rapid changes in her menstrual cycle or breast tenderness when taking wild carrot.
We encourage women, especially those new to wild carrot, to proceed with careful attention and reasonable caution when exploring using the flowers, seeds or tincture of Daucus carota. If you feel uncertain, feel free to use a condom or other barrier method while you are getting to know how wild carrot and your body fit together.
Our group’s empirical and anecdotal experiences suggest that wild carrot works well with clear intentionality around what we are doing with our fertility. Fertility is generated during lovemaking and we can choose how to direct it, what we want it to feed and generate. When one is a fertile woman, the natural tendency is to create a new human being. If that is not what you want, it is vital to choose what you do want. This is true co-creative empowerment. It is important to include your partner in this discussion, too.
The longest history of known use of the plant as a contraceptive is based on the use of the seeds. Wild carrot was originally used in seed form in China and India over 2000 years ago. If you wish to use wild carrot seeds, purchase them from a reliable source or harvest them in the fall when they are fully formed, green and/or freshly turned brown, and store them in a paper bag.
THE MOST COMMON WAYS OF USING WILD CARROT SEEDS:
Approximately 8 hours after intercourse, one teaspoon of seeds is chewed. (Note that many women find this the least pleasant way of taking wild carrot).
One teaspoon of seeds is ground in a coffee grinder set aside for herbs.
There are a variety of ways women have used wild carrot seeds (and flowers) historically and in modern times.
Some of these are as follows:
Ground seed is stirred into water for drinking
Ground seed is rolled into a honey ball and taken
Ground seed is rolled into a ball with nut butter (peanut, almond, etc). Several women have reported that they enjoy using the seeds this way.
As with other herbs, it’s likely best to grind no more than a one week supply of wild carrot seed at a time, to ensure freshness and potency. Powdered seed, by itself or in any preparation should be stored in an airtight container such as a jar or a tin.
If you are having intercourse during the fertile phase, some women repeat the dosage of wild carrot (seeds or tincture) approximately 8 hours apart. Pay attention to sensations in your body and intuition regarding how many subsequent times you take wild carrot.
If using tincture, the minimum amount women used in this exploration was 15 drops of flower and 15 drops of seed in water each time. Maximum amounts were 30 drops each.
Open questions remain regarding whether wild carrot needs to be used sparingly, rather than continuously and whether wild carrot is is a good contraceptive ally when a woman has highly irregular cycles, or is still nursing, yet has resumed her monthly cycle. In the women who conceived while taking wild carrot, all reported healthy outcomes and healthy babies.
Wild carrot appears to work best for women and couples who are practicing conscious contraception, and/or conscious conception. If you are crystal clear with carrot she responds crystal clearly. If you are ambivalent, than anything goes, yet she can help you prevent or re-direct potential life. But it has to be your decision. It isn’t just done for you. You (and your partner) need to be conscious. Becoming more and more familiar with your body’s fertility signs (fertile mucous, breast changes, energy, mood) is part of the beauty of allying with wild carrot for natural, conscious contraception.
Wild carrot is powerful, playful, and alive and connected to our 2nd chakra and our sexuality. She is a shape-shifter. Robin has perceived her as a spinning orange mandala. Wild carrot deals with the greatest energies in the world, sex, life, and death, and yet, this plant is playful and uplifting. She is a profound teacher and healer. We hope this botanical exploration has provided insights for getting to know her better.
Please feel free to contact us at:
Robin Rose Bennett
Thank you again to wild carrot, and to all the beautiful, knowledge-seeking women who joined together for this herbal exploration for our benefit and the benefit of the future generations!
Robin and Mischa